Helping military veterans with common mental health problems

First Step in Cumbria is currently developing its services for military veterans who have served in the regular and reserve armed forces. Given recent armed conflict throughout the world it is possible that an individual would have seen active service in a war zone. We know that such an experience can result in mental health difficulties either at the time or at a later date. These difficulties can include anxiety, depression or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

We also know that for an individual who has served in the armed forces the transition to civilian life can be difficult. The possible cause of these difficulties stemming from the lack of structure, focus and camaraderie which existed in the forces. The transition may also involve finding meaningful employment, establishing relationships, and integrating back into the local community. It is not uncommon for issues such as these to become sources of stress.

Nicky Lavery (pictured above) is our lead practitioner for military veterans and works closely with other organisations to ensure as many military veterans as possible can get the help they need from First Step.

As a service we offer a range of psychological interventions which are delivered by qualified practitioners. These include; one-to-one treatments based on the principles of cognitive behaviour therapy, one-to-one counselling, and a 7 week wellbeing series of workshops called ‘Ways to Wellbeing’. We also offer Eye Movement and Desensitisation (EMDR) a treatment recommended by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) for the treatment of PTSD.

To ensure we opt for the intervention that is most likely to result in a positive outcome we would initially complete either a telephone or face to face assessment.

First Step has links with a range of statutory, voluntary and third sector agencies including charitable organisations directly related to military and ex-military personnel and their families.  In some cases we may decide there is an alternative service that would be better placed to meet the needs of an individual or aspect of them. In such cases we would either refer or signpost onwards.

Enquires or to self- refer call 03001239122 or alternatively visit your GP to discuss.


Additional sources of support for military veterans and their families:

Combat Stress - support for members of the reserve forces
Combat Stress provides effective clinical treatment and support to Veterans of the British Armed Forces, as well as to currently serving and ex members of the Army Reserve (formerly known as the Territorial Army (TA)) and Reserve Forces, who are suffering mental ill health. Members of the Reserve Forces are normally NHS patients in civilian life and it is of note that there are a number of Army Reserve Units in the North West. Combat Stress treatment and support is delivered UK wide by 14 Outreach Teams and at our three Residential Treatment Centres. Our clients in the North West are visited by our Region Outreach and Community Team, and many also attend our clinical treatment centre in Scotland at Hollybush House just outside Ayr.

Combat Stress also operates a UK wide 24 hour, 365 days a year helpline on 0800 138 1619 for the military community and their families, including Reservists and ex Reservists. Additionally, the Combat Stress Support Desk for the North West can be contacted on 01292 561355 or by e mail to:

The Combat Stress Reserve Forces Liaison Officer is Lieutenant Commander Glen MacDonald Royal Navy (Retired), and he may be contacted on 07833 941951 or by e mail to:
All of their services are free of charge to our clients. Combat Stress is a registered Charity funded partly by the NHS and partly through charitable fundraising and donations etc. More information is available on our website at:
The Royal British Legion        National helpline Freephone 0808 802 8080 open 8am to 8pm

The Armed Forces Community Directory (the Veterans Council)

HELP for HEROES  Tel :01980 844 280

SSAFA  Cumbria Helpline 01524 782418   Email:

Big White Wall  Access is free to members of the armed forces, veterans and their families.

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